Charities welcome closure of loophole

Children’s charities in Scotland have welcomed the country’s new
child protection bill, which will close a loophole that previously
allowed unsuitable people to work with children.

The Protection of Children (Scotland) Bill will create a list of
persons unsuitable to work with children. Nurseries, schools and
youth organisations will have to refer to this list before
employing anyone.

Employers will have to put a person on the list if they are sacked
or moved because of their behaviour towards children, regardless of
whether they are subsequently convicted of any crime.

It will be an offence for anyone on the list to apply for a job
involving contact with children, and an offence for an organisation
not to check the list before employing someone.

Chief executive of Children First Margaret Mackay said:
“Safeguarding our children must be our highest priority. In any
situation where the rights of adults and the protection of children
are in the balance, the rights of children must come first.”

The bill comes just months ahead of the expected recommendations of
the child protection review, set up following the death of
three-year-old Kennedy McFarlane, who was murdered by her mother’s
boyfriend Thomas Duncan in May 2000.

An independent inquiry into Kennedy’s death by consultant
paediatrician Dr Helen Hammond, published in March 2001, found that
the girl’s life could have been saved if Dumfries and Galloway
Council had implemented its full child protection procedures.

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